Art has always played an important role in pushing political change — and even more so this year.
With an election coming up, political education is at the forefront of the art world as it mimics the wider culture. As much as the statements and Instagram posts of fashion industry players bring awareness to the issue, this simply is not enough. Looking inwards, the fashion industry is realizing you how difficult it is for Black people to break into it.
One of the prominent leaders taking charge is D’Wayne Edwards, a former Nike executive and Pensole Footwear Design Academy founder, who called a meeting with Black industry stakeholders to brainstorm solutions on how change can happen within the industry.
*Dwayne Edwards working with students in the Pensole Footwear Design Academy.
They shared the importance of pushing diversity recruitment programs to improve the percentage of Black employees in the sneaker/fashion industry.
On the other hand, creatives like Tremaine Emory halted his partnership with Converse because he demanded actions — as opposed to statements. He was getting ready to push out his new sneaker with Converse, but would not move forward until Nike (its parent company) made donations to the Black community.
*Tremaine Emory; designer, creative consultant and founder of Denim Tears.
As creatives begin to realize their power in the streetwear industry, companies are slowly getting pushed to advocate for change. Emory’s new shoe with Converse will now be launching soon — and the marketing around it will promote that people get out and vote. Creatives are using their art and clothing products to promote political education, putting pressure on their powerful partnerships with major companies that have more bandwidth to push for political and social justice.
With the help of large social media accounts, the message (and profile) of these creatives can reach new audiences. Political statements — and real change — is not just fueled by companies, but by the actions of creatives who are pressuring the corporations who have significant power to push for social change.